Ditlev Bredahl, CEO for cloud management software providers OnApp, gives us ten points every business should look out for when attempting to build a successful cloud computing strategy into their IT infrastructure.

Opening for business: your new cloud?

Whether it’s building a private cloud for internal users, or a public cloud on which to host paying customers, the first challenge for building into cloud is finding the best way to “cloud-enable” your IT infrastructure.

While some companies build their own clouds from scratch, the quickest path to the cloud, for most, is to invest in a third party cloud deployment and management tool. There are many available, and this is a guide to the ten tips a would-be cloud business should consider when choosing the right tool to help build and manage their cloud.

1. Fundamentals
When choosing a hosting provider make sure you choose a provider with real understanding and experience of what businesses need to successfully deploy a public or private cloud.

2. True cloud, not just virtualisation
Insist on functionality that gives you maximum automation and efficiency. Above all, find a product that gives you the flexibility to adapt to the market as it evolves.

3. Time to “cloud-readiness”
Remember a lengthy cloud deployment increases the risk of late entry into the public cloud hosting market where early adopters have become established leaders. For enterprises, slow cloud transition risks both the need for fresh capital expenditure on new hardware and operational inefficiency of the existing infrastructure. Measure your deployment in days, not months.

4. Cost
Every planned transition to cloud computing will be carefully scrutinised in terms of cost. Launching a public cloud business for hosts requires complete transparency from your cloud software provider. The cloud management software market is increasingly competitive, and best-in-class functionality can be yours for little or no up-front investment. You need to have a very good reason to insist on software with monolithic licensing and prices for integration, implementation and support.

5. Billing
Don’t assume that moving to the cloud means you have to adopt new billing platforms, utility billing models and a small set of billing options. Billing flexibility will be critical to the success of your cloud project.

6. Hardware compatibility
Compatibility in server and storage hardware is a critical success factor for cloud projects. Focus on platforms that support the widest range of hardware types and performance levels; that enable you to re-use your existing servers and SANs; and providers that can help with any hardware investment you need to make.

7. IOPS monitoring
Unless you have good reason, avoid cloud management systems that cannot monitor IOPS or that don’t offer flexible tiered storage and swap disks.

8. User permissions
Look for cloud software that gives you granular control of user limits and permissions, with an API that lets you exploit that control to create exactly the cloud service your customers need.

9. Usability
Focus on the UI from an internal as well as a customers’ viewpoint, and favour cloud platforms that enable you to customise the user experience easily – either directly, or through the API.

10. Support
Since this is the platform on which you’re running your cloud business, insist on free, high quality, 24×7 support from your cloud software provider.

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